“I hope it's a good place for the families...”
Eric Lowry, a home energy auditor and civil engineer, sitting on the porch of his Ardmore home, can’t help but get choked up about the place where he spent summers in his youth, and holidays, and pretty much every other family get-together: Shanksville, Pa., on a farm owned by his grandparents.
That farm, so full of life and celebrations and memories for Lowry and his family, is now part of a permanent memorial for the crew and passengers of United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed there on Sept. 11, 2001, after the plane’s hijackers were rushed and overpowered by those onboard.
The land was sold to a coal mine in the 1980s, but Lowry’s family is still in the area, including his grandfather, now in his mid-90s, the last man to run the dairy farm.
“None of our families or friends, to my knowledge, were killed,” said Lowry about his extended family, his voice faltering at times. “But it was land that we all grew up on ... I mean, my DNA comes from there.”
This is Eric Lowry’s story, in his words. He and his wife, Marta Villarraga, recently sat down with Patch to talk about something that his family can’t seem to find the words or feelings for, even 10 years later.
While their two little girls, Sofia and Isabela, napped inside on Labor Day afternoon, he cast his mind back to growing up as a kid in the 1970s and ’80s, what that land meant to his family, and what it means to reconcile happy childhood memories with the profound sadness of many other families who now make the trek to the very same patch of earth.
Because he lost no loved ones himself on 9/11, Lowry said he almost feels as if he has no right to feel pain about the loss of a place in his memory. But he finds solace in the old family farm’s potential—to bring peace, and comfort, to the families of those aboard United 93.